Something Out of Place

Friday, March 17th 2017

While over towards the wetland today I spotted something that was out of place. Can you see it too – what’s odd in this picture?

To me it seemed strange that quite a scattering of spruce cones were to be found on the ground with only ash, hazel and hawthorn above – none of which produce cones. So I went to have a closer look.

The cones on the ground appeared jagged and ruffled…

…here, one (on the left) with a fallen cone (on the right) for comparison.

A little bit of research later and an explanation is achieved – I’ve found a greater-spotted woodpecker’s anvil! These birds feed on conifer seeds in the winter and will pick a cone from its tree and fly with it to a convenient crack. It will lodge the cone firmly in the crack, tip upwards, and peck and prise the scales apart to get at the seeds – this gives the cones their ruffled appearance. The woodpecker will even turn the cone around to get the seeds from all sides. Apparently it only takes around 4 minutes for a woodpecker to empty the seeds from a pine cone, during which time it pecks at the cone approximately 800 times! The woodpecker only removes a cone it has finished with from a crack when it needs the crack for a fresh cone. Armed with this knowledge I looked for a cone left in a crack and lo and behold, there it was on a branch a fair way up the ash tree!

Sadly I didn’t see the greater-spotted woodpecker with its meal, but maybe someone with more time and patience could try for a photo…?

(0) Comments:

There are no comments for this blog post yet. Why not start the discussion? - use the form below:

Leave a Comment:

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

The following question is designed to make sure you are a real person and helps us cut down on spam.
Your comments will appear here once an administrator has reviewed them.

How many weeks are in a year? (2 character(s) required)

Back to Top

Recent Blog Posts:

News from the North and Foxglove Sightings

Posted 24th June 2018

Firstly more news from the North.  For several years the team have found a Barn Owl's nest on an island.  There have been eggs and…

Read More

Swallow Tales

Posted 23rd June 2018

At this time of year there are many summer wildlife visitors to the UK. Barn Swallows, Swifts, Sand Martins and House Martins all belong to…

Read More

Mole madness and other sightings

Posted 22nd June 2018

We've seen four Moles above ground today, most likely as a consequence of their invertebrate prey being scarce and/or the ground being particularly hard due…

Read More

Tidying the Green Route

Posted 21st June 2018

The group have achieved a great deal during our tidying of the Green Route today. We started the morning with boardwalk repairs and removing vegetation…

Read More

Sitemap | Accessibility Policy | Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions |